I've had this story bopping around in my head for a while now. It is a Hellboy & co. story, so please be patient. They will make an appearance later on.
Disclaimer: Hellboy & co. are owned by Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics. I in no way claim them for my own.
I wake with a start. An earthquake? In New Jersey? I know it's not unheard of, but still, they're pretty rare. I lift my head out of my pillow and look at the clock. 5:03 am. Crud. I don't have to get up for another hour, but I know I'm not going to get back to sleep either. With a groan, I roll over, push back the covers and sit up with my legs hanging over the side of the bed. Turning on the lamp on the night stand, I look down and see Wizard come out from under the bed. He looks at me with large accusing eyes.
"Hey, don't blame me," I tell him. "I didn't do it."
He just gives me this "Yeah right" look, then jumps onto the bed and claims the warm spot I left. I scratch his ears for a couple of minutes before getting the courage up to put my feet on the floor. I can feel the cold marble right through the Persian rug. I quickly put on my fleece lined slippers and bathrobe before heading downstairs, turning off the light before I go.
Yawning, I finally reach the kitchen and turn on the coffee maker. I head for the bathroom while it does its thing. Jeez, but it's cold this morning. I wonder for the millionth time what was I thinking when I had them put in marble flooring everywhere. And I answer my self for the millionth time that I'd have trouble living in a house made of wood. Even though it's the middle of June, I'm tempted to turn on the heater, but I change my mind as I turn on the light in the bathroom.
I blink several times as my eyes adjust to sudden light. I turn on the hot water tap and then look at myself in the mirror. Hazel eyes in a tanned face look back at me. I take my hair out of the loose braid it's in and brush out my hair. After I'm done brushing it, I turn to get a better look at it in the mirror. The gentle waves of auburn hair are almost to my waist. It's probably time to visit my hair dresser again. I quickly pull my hair back into a French braid with a little "help," and then wash my face. After that's done, I get my cup of coffee then head back upstairs to get dressed.
I go into my bedroom and turn on the overhead light. Wizard looks up, startled. Then he glares at me with those baleful yellow eyes. I ignore him, and he puts his head down and flips his fluffy brown tail over his face. I go into the walk in closet to get into my work clothes. But as I'm reaching for my jeans, I stop. A little voice in the back of my head is telling me to put on my riding clothes. Every time I've ignored that little voice, I've always regretted it later. I put on my long white socks, riding breeches, and a white button down long sleeved shirt. I pull on a sweater on top of all that and put on my Nikes. Riding boots are a pain to walk around in, besides their down in the tack room anyways.
I go back to the kitchen and refill my cup and then head outside. Something is definitely wrong. Looking to the left, I can see the sun is just starting to creep over the horizon on the other side of the lake, but the birds aren't singing their morning songs. They're flitting about in an agitated manner. Several land on the porch railing and look at me. The birds around here have always been friendly toward me, but this is very strange. I shiver and take a sip of my coffee. Deer, raccoons and opossums are wandering around the yard, as if lost.
Heading down the front steps, I go toward my favorite tree in the front yard. It's an old oak tree. I sit at its base, carefully put my coffee down beside me and close my eyes. I send "myself" into the Earth, and search for the epicenter of the quake. About 20 miles north, I find it in the middle of a forest. There's a fissure and a great sense of wrongness to it. What's even stranger is that there are no fault lines any where near the epicenter. I quickly return to my body and open my eyes. The dryad that lives in the oak tree is sitting next to me. I look at her.
I'm worried, she says without words. That earthquake was not natural.
"I know," I tell her. "I will go and check it out today. I will try and right it."
Thank you, says the dryad. She stands and then disappears into her tree.
I pick up my coffee, and then stand myself. I quickly head inside while brushing myself off. I make sure all the lights and the coffee maker are off. I grab my keys and driver's license and head out. Locking the door behind me, I notice the sun is now all the way up. The birds and animals are starting to go back to their normal routines. I head down the hill toward the ranch. It's time to get to work.